Neo Technology, the makers of the Neo4j graph database, may not be a household name, but you very likely access graph database technology on daily basis, whether you know it or not — and it’s a market that growing by leaps and bounds and getting the attention of some of the biggest names in the business.
Graph databases make logical connections for you. It’s what helps find products you like based on other products you bought previously on shopping sites and what drives the social graph on Facebook — those connections between you and your friends in your social network.
Graph databases were the fastest growing type of database in 2014, according to data from DB-Engines a website that tracks database popularity.
As for where Neo Technology fits in with all that, Neo4j is the leading graph database product, according to DB-Engines, but the company is not content to rest on its laurels. Nor can it, not with the likes of Oracle and Microsoft having announced graph database products and news that Amazon, HP and others are working on them.
These companies are gaining interest for a good reason. Graph databases could be about to take off in the enterprise, where there is an increasing need to find those same kinds of connections in enterprise (big) data.
In fact, according to a Gartner report, Making Big Data Normal With Graph Analysis for the Masses, “By the end of 2018, 70% of leading organizations will have one or more pilot or proof-of-concept efforts underway utilizing graph databases.”
As the market grows, it gets the attention of these other players, but Neo Technology CEO Emil Eifrem jokes that he will outspend them. He adds more seriously that even though these bigger companies get involved in a particular market, he believes customers will look to the leader, and for now that’s Neo4j.
He points out that Neo4j has 10,000 deployments with hundreds of customers in production including the likes of Walmart, eBay and Adidas — and that puts his company well ahead of the well-heeled potential competition.
One way to stay ahead is to offer an open source product, and that’s precisely what neo4j does, but it’s taking it a step further this week, announcing a new way for graph databases from various competing products to communicate with one another with the release of openCypher.
“We are taking Cypher which was specific to us and opening it up for other vendors to use,” Eifrem said. As he points out, it might seem counter-intuitive to simply give away a tool that has been unique to Neo4j, but it’s not completely altruistic. As he sees it, being able to communicate across products is important to customers and that should ultimately be good for his company.
They have several companies involved including Oracle.
In addition, the company announced a deal with IBM to sell Power 8 servers equipped with neo4j, giving it a powerful hardware platform to meet the needs of highly demanding jobs.
Finally, the company released version 2.3 of neo4j, which might sound kind of incremental, but which Efraim points out is actually a substantial update that makes it easier to make sense of big data by building smart applications at a bigger scale than was possible in previous releases.
All of this points to a company that’s trying to stay competitive, and even as the big boys try to take it on, Neo Technology is trying to stay one or two steps ahead of the competition. The partnerships and other announcements are all part of that.
Neo Technology has raised $44.1 million. The most recent round was a $20 million Series C last January.